SILVERTON, Ohio -- Sheriff Jim Neil is denying rumors that the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office has pulled patrols from Silverton, but is admitting that contract negotiations for police service are at an impasse.
The parking lot outside the Silverton town hall is normally full of sheriff's office cars for patrolling Silverton and Columbia Township. But when most of them were moved, it prompted concerns that deputies are being moved.
Silverton did away with its police department in 2014 and contracted with the sheriff's office for service. That contract expired nine months ago and hasn't been renegotiated yet.
Both sides say there's a wide gap in dollars between them right now. There may be an approximately $150,000 difference between what the village now pays and what the sheriff needs to provide the service. Village Administrator Tom Carroll said they paid the sheriff's office about $775,000 this year, but the sheriff says he needs about $910,000.
"Obviously, finances are tough, but we don't have a problem paying the fair price," Carroll said. "If it's 910 and it's fair, that's what we'll pay. We just don't believe it's fair."
The bottom line, according to Neil, is that the streets of Silverton are still being patrolled, even though he and the village administrator have different ways of saying it.
"Rumors are currently circulating that the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office pulled our patrols from the Village of Silverton," Neil said. "First of all, that is simply not true. I assure all the citizens in the Village of Silverton that the sheriff's office is committed to their safety, and we have and will continue to provide 24-hour service and protection."
But Carroll said the sheriff's office has reduced its presence in Silverton.
"They've taken cars out of Silverton. They weren't our cars," he said. "They're still patrolling in Silverton. We're still protected by the sheriff and we appreciate that. We think that's his contractual and statutory duty. We appreciate him doing that, but there are fewer resources in Silverton, and we're at an impasse."
The cars that were removed were the ones Columbia Township pays for to patrol its territory.
Neil said there's a lot of restructuring going on, with deputies patrolling townships and other communities. When all the contracts are worked out, he hopes the lot in Silverton will be home base for cars patrolling the village, Columbia Township, Arlington Heights and Lincoln Heights.
Contracts are being redone for Sycamore and Symmes Township, as well.